How to Make a Fire with Sticks: 3 Simple Beginner’s Guides

Do you want to learn how to make a fire with sticks? Fire is good. It is our ally. It can keep us warm, help us prepare food and provide us with light. But the question, “Do you always have the convenience of using your matches or lighter to make and build one?”

When trapped in a survival situation, like having to stay in the woods in your long-term survival shelter, you might not always have these modern tools to start and build a fire in your campsite.

As the truth, lighters can run out of fluid and matches won’t light when they get wet. In short, they can be missing when you need them the most. It is the exact same reason one of the most important survival skills to learn building fire with sticks.

3 Simple Methods in Building Fire with Sticks

In the following guide, we’ll discuss ways on how to make fire with sticks that are easy to find almost anywhere even in the woods and other places where modern conveniences are scarce.

However, take note that all methods have their pros and cons. That is why you need to follow the instructions closely to achieve success. Or else, it can be all but impossible to build fire with sticks.

What Types of Wood for Fire Sticks

Some wood types are easier to use – and a few options include the Yucca and Sotol. If you don’t find them in the location where you are trying ways on how to survive in the wilderness, you can look for other wood sources that must be easily accessible.

It will be helpful if you know about some local trees and their pros and cons in fire building. A good combination is,

  • Softer wood for the fireboard
  • Harder wood for the stick

When to use hardwood: Use it only once you have burned the softwoods that have their residue enough to get the fire going strong.

A note on moisture

Again, you will need dry wood for the fire sticks. Moisture can be disadvantageous and will not help you achieve success in the task. To determine moisture content, you can weigh each stick of the same wood type and size. Use the lightest one because it has the lowest moisture content.

How to Build Fire with Sticks Using Friction

Using sticks to build fire is what every prepared survivalist or naturalist must know and master. It is what you need to survive in the woods or any other wilderness location. But then, making fire with sticks is not only for survivalist, but also for a hunter, camper, angler, backpacker or hiker.

Prepare the materials

Increase your success odds with proper preparation. Here are the materials you will need.

  • Dry straight stick
  • To make a fire hearth or fireboard, a dry flat wood
  • Bunch of dry sticks
  • Tinder bundle
  • Bunch of kindling

In general, you must use DRY WOOD, not WET or with moisture. Or else, you might find it impossible to build fire with sticks and be destined to fail at the task.

So the key here is to find wood with very little moisture in it.

Moisture makes it impossible to start fire – and the more moisture means more friction to build an ember, further decreasing your success chances. Find dried out wood or seasoned woods, which are also good.

Collect kindling materials, including cured wood bits, dead grass, old plants, dandelion fluff and other materials to make up the tinder bundle.


  • It is better to use finer tinder because they are more flammable. You should also ensure that the bundle is dry to avoid struggling to transfer fire from the ember to it.
  • You can also collect larger sticks and twigs to feed the kindling, which is more substantial than tinder is.
  • Kindling options may also include flammable materials, such as pine shavings and dry cedar bark. You can add these hardwoods to the fire after you have it going with your tinder bundle.
  • Make sure your kindling and tinder bundle are ready to use and accessible.

Building the fire

Begin with a flame or a heat source so that the ember will grow. For this step, you will need fine and dry tinder, which will supply enough fire to catch logs and dry sticks. Let the fire be strong enough to catch these materials. This step will result to a roaring fire if you followed the steps closely. Make sure you did not skip any or it will be hard to make a fire.

Steps Recap

  1. Gather all the needed materials, including fine and dry sticks, tinder, kindling materials, small sticks and dry board.
  2. Have the fire starting materials staged.
  3. Use friction to build up fire from wood into the hot ember.
  4. You should transfer the ember to the tinder, and then start igniting by blowing it.
  5. Grab your kindling materials and let it catch fire from the burning tinder.
  6. To create long-lasting fire, use larger sticks.

Using the Fire Plow Method

This method is another technique is building a fire with sticks that may come in handy when you need to start one in the campsite. For this one in fire building, you will need a flat wood where you can make a depression or channel with a knife, a sharp stone or flint, along the wood’s length.

You also need a board that must be a bit soft, allowing you to mark it with your nail. When you have the depression or channel, you can hold it with your knees.

On the other hand, your fire stick must be a hard wood with length that must be up to 15 inches and thickness of a pencil. Hold it at least 35 degrees using your both hands. Start moving up and down the channel. Take note that you might need to work up a sweat in this step.

The stick will create a heated dust coal coming from the friction. The fine shavings will then drop from the board’s end onto the tinder that must be carefully positioned.

VIDEO TUTORIAL: Starting Fire with Sticks – “Fire Plow”

Using the Hand Drill Method

Another popular method to start fire in the wilderness is the hand drill method. It will take practice, but it is an essential survival skill to master. With your palms facing each other and spread flat at that, you are basically holding a dry stick upright.

You are also rotating the material while pressing it downward so that the stick will make friction for, again, heat generation. This step will help you make an ember that be forming at the stick’s base.

DO NOT PAUSE because you need to maintain the force, pressure and friction to the stick, which must start glowing if you’re consistent enough working up the rotational friction.

DO NOT STOP when you see smoke. Instead, you should keep doing it until you have coal dust that will drop onto the dry bark that will transfer fire onto the other materials.

VIDEO TUTORIAL:  How to Make Fire by Rubbing Sticks

Choosing the stick for the hand drill method

Find a thick (ideally thicker than a pencil), long (about 15 inches), and straight stick. It must also be smooth to avoid hurting your hands as you’re making friction.

You can also shape it to a point if you have a pocketknife with you, or just choose one that has a point on it naturally.

Choose the fireboard. It does not have to be flat, but better if it is. In the woods, you might be able to find larger stick, which you can hold later between your knees.

Look for the natural hollow in this fireboard. Alternatively, you might also want to make a small depression on it with your pocketknife. If you don’t have it, you can be resourceful by using a stone with a sharp edge to dig the depression out.

Starting the fire with the hand drill method

Start cutting a notch into the depression’s edge going to the wood’s edge so that ember can drop onto the tinder bit.

Make sure that the notch is small, or the fire stick will slip out of place. If you have company, you can ask for his help by placing the tinder near the stick and the fireboard, making them ready for ember. You can ask him to have his hands cupped in order to keep the smoke away from the wind.

VIDEO TUTORIAL: How To Make A Fire Using Sticks

Final Thoughts

As a naturalist, hiker, camper or angler, you need fire in keeping you warm, cooking food or providing you with light. And just like learning how to build a long term survival shelter, practicing and eventually mastering the art of building fire with sticks is an essential survivalist skill that will come in handy when the situation calls for it.

Use this guide on how to build fire with sticks and easily make fire in the woods where a lighter or match might be out of reach especially when disaster strikes that you forgot tossing them in your bug out bag.

Hope you picked up something from this beginner’s guide in building fire.   Did you like this article? Share it on Facebook today!

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